Dubai: Jeev Milkha Singh was lying almost in the middle of the pack with a modest one-under 71 at the end of the opening round of the USD 8,000,000 DP World Tour Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates on Thursday. The 41-year-old Indian, who has still not fully recovered from his injury, was lying at tied 38th, six behind the leader Luke Donald of England, who arrived into Dubai, fresh from a win in Japan.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy was just one shot behind with two others, Marc Warren and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Joint fifth with 67s were 2009 winner Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Richie Ramsay, Louis Oosthuizen and Fredrik Andersson Hed. Jeev, who had birdies on the third and fifth, gave away the good start with bogeys on 11th and 12th, before he ended the day with a birdie to come under par.
This is the first event to feature all 12 of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes since their triumph in Chicago in September. McIlroy, who has an unassailable lead at the top was only one under at the turn. But he then had five birdies in seven holes. He drove into the water on the par five 18th and had to settle for par there.
Donald's purple patch came from the fifth to the 14th hole. All his seven birdies came in that stretch. Donald moved back up to second in the rankings ahead of Tiger Woods by taking the Dunlop Phoenix title at the weekend and is seeking to match McIlroy's four wins this year.
Fernandez-Castao had all six of his birdies on the way in after nine consecutive pars on the front nine. Warren is making his first appearance at the event since it moved to the Middle East in 2009 and his day began with a "mad rush" to find his waterproofs after stepping outside his hotel and seeing heavy rain but it soon cleared up and he had perfect conditions for his round.
Only 56 golfers teed off as Thomas Bjrn and Retief Goosen were out injured while Ross Fisher pulled out earlier in the week and this morning Ireland's Shane Lowry withdrew after going down with a virus.